Monday, April 4th, 2011 12:00 PM
From the moment the music begins its ominous rumble and six dancers move in fits and starts, "Wien" signals that Rioult is a choreographer with an eye for striking imagery. Virtually everything about this creation is unsettling, from the Kafka-esque aura, vividly transformed by lighting designer David Finley, to the spasmodic intermingling of bodies in a whirlpool of desolation.
The dancers are dressed in Russ Vogler's middle-class European attire, placing them more › in the nexus of world conflagration. They're clearly on the edge of sanity as they move in circular chains, cling to one another or collapse to the floor in momentary anguish.
As they're swept along Ravel's tidal wave of waltzing menace, the cast reveals the limber and urgent strength that is a hallmark of the company. "Wien" packs an emotional wallop partly because the dancers have such command both of technical resources and expressive power.
The program continued after a pause with "Bolero," Ravel's most famous and hypnotic score, with its haunting theme that does nothing but increase in volume and orchestral texture. Rioult illuminates the music using eight dancers, dressed in sleek white, who execute robotic gestures in canonic patterns.
As the instruments in Ravel's score bring distinctive personality to the theme, each dancer has a solo moment of unfolding balances and elegant sensuality. Rioult builds an intriguing mosaic – set before Harry Feiner's Cubist backdrop – that never falls into the trap of physical monotony.
The cast, including many of the dancers who had thrust themselves into the pained world of "Wien," gave "Bolero" a performance of mesmerizing and concentrated vibrancy. In solo, duo and ensemble episodes, they were alert to every crisp or elastic choreographic demand.
Another side of Rioult was on display in the program's opening work, "Views of the Fleet World," set to selections from Bach's "The Art of the Fugue" (arranged for string orchestra). In nine sections, the piece suggests varied states of nature, employing abstract painted projections (by Feiner) and sounds of thunder, wind and rain to underline the basic themes.
But the dance is the thing. Even without the effects, which add little, Riout's responses to Bach are keenly sensitive to phrasing and structure. The creative inspiration is buoyant, shapely and often intricate in design, reflecting Bach's contrapuntal mastery.
One movement stands out. In "Moonlight," two dancers lie on the stage reaching upward and toward one another in romantic reverie. Like their colleagues throughout the night, Penelope Gonzalez and Brian Flynn were luminous champions of their artistic director's discerning vision.
RELATED COMPANY: RIOULT
Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 12:00 PM
DANCECleveland, the region's only organization whose sole focus is to present national and international dance companies, is seeking a full-time or part-time Development Director. The Development Director will be responsible for the coordination and execution of the organization's Foundation, Corporate and Government fundraising efforts, Annual Fund campaigns and Major Gifts fund raising.
This includes, but is not limited to:
+ Current Foundation and Government funders: creating and submitting grant more › packages and grants management including all reporting, correspondence and acknowledgement letters (currently includes approximately 25 Foundation grants and 10 Government grants per year), identifying potential new foundation and government grant opportunities and creating and implementing a process to approach these potential funders
+Support the corporate grant and sponsorship efforts, led by the Executive Director
+ Create and implement the Annual Fund campaigns (currently 2 per year)
+ Help create and launch a major gifts campaign
+ Maintaining a grants calendar and all grant related addendum materials
+ Maintaining the records for DANCECleveland with the Ohio Cultural Database.
This position is deadline driven and the ebb and flow of work will vary throughout the year with the heaviest period being between February and April and the reporting period in July. The desired candidate will be results-oriented, highly organized, goal oriented with superior writing and communication skills. Candidates should have a Bachelor's Degree with a minimum of three years of experience in the grant writing and development fields.
We offer a generous compensation package based on experience. Serious candidates should send a cover letter with salary requirements, resume and a grant writing sample, to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 12, 2011. No phone calls, please.
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 12:00 PM
Sandusky has a lot going for it, including spectacles known as Cedar Point and Lake Erie. But the city isn't usually associated with professional dance.
That will change this week, at least temporarily, when River North Chicago Dance Company makes a stop to hold workshops in local schools and perform Friday for 700 students and on Saturday for other curious citizens at the Sandusky State Theatre.
The troupe's residency is more › part of Dance Across America's Heartland Project, a collaboration among the presenting organizations DanceCleveland, Dance Affiliates (Philadelphia) and Dance St. Louis.
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which is based in New York, provided a $120,000 grant to help the presenters take River North to nearby communities. In addition to Sandusky, the company is appearing in York, Pa., and Rolla, Mo.
Each of the presenters raised considerable funds for the project, which has a total cost of $327,000. The Sandusky State Theatre received $30,000 from the Duke foundation and $5,000 from the New England Foundation for the Arts, which also gave River North $40,000 to support the residencies.
"It's a fantastic opportunity," said Thomas Kazmierczak, executive director of the Sandusky State Theatre. "It will expand our horizons, expand the audience base and bring new works of art to our theater."
Aside from River North, dance only takes to the stage of the 1,500-seat Sandusky theater -- which opened in 1928 as a movie and vaudeville house -- when local dance studios present recitals and the touring Moscow Ballet performs "The Nutcracker."
Pamela Young, executive director of DanceCleveland, said the project came about as a result of the three presenting organizations "bemoaning the fact that so few presenters include dance on their series."
"They told us they felt dance was too hard to present -- and too expensive," said Young. "Taking dance to places is really important. It builds audiences for dance on a regional level and builds tour opportunities for dance companies."
Those companies must apply for the project, be willing to travel to the sites supported by the presenters and agree to work with local schools.
The project includes what Young calls a "tool box," an online resource for dance presenters that should be accessible by fall on the website of Dance/USA (danceusa.org).
For the Sandusky piece of the dance pie, the theater is providing space, staff, hospitality and marketing. Kazmierczak said the theater has worked with Arts Midwest, a Minneapolis-based organization that books international performing artists throughout Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
In recent seasons, the Sandusky theater teamed with Arts Midwest to present musical ensembles from Japan, Israel, China and Quebec. The theater is occupied the rest of the year with theater events, concerts, movies and art shows, for a total of up to 60 shows. Ticket sales account for about 40 percent of the annual budget.
Kazmierczak said his theater's participation in the dance project was born during a New York conference for presenting theaters at which he met a representative from River North. She told him the project aimed to take dance into theaters that don't normally offer it.
"That's us," said Kazmierczak.
Sunday, January 30th, 2011 12:00 PM
A lot of things go wrong during a performance by Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. But they happen at just the right moments.
With the impeccable timing, madcap sensibility and disciplined elegance that long have been their hallmarks, the male dancers known as the Trocks are frolicsome guides to the quirks that inhabit classical ballet and modern dance. They don't make fun of these genres. They have fun with more › them while maintaining loyalty to the source.
The Trocks brought tutus and tights to Cleveland for the first time in several decades Saturday at the Ohio Theatre under the auspices of Cuyahoga Community College and DanceCleveland. From the time an announcer with a theek Russian accent introduced the program to the final whimsical curtain call (Celtic dance a la Russe), the Trocks were masters of terpsichorean mirth.
At Saturday's performance, they shared distinctive spoofs of classic works and legendary choreographers, mixing matters of gender with assured dancing that must be the envy of more than a few "serious" ballet companies.
The corps de ballet in Act II of "Swan Lake," for instance, looked buoyant and even giddy en pointe, even if one member was so enthusiastic that she/he often fell out of step (or simply crashed to the floor). As Odette, Olga Supphozova (female nom de plume for the terrific Robert Carter) was a radiant, ornery presence – at turns graceful and earthbound, her technical feats precise and delightfully self-serving.
In "Patterns of Space," a work paying tribute to the late Merce Cunningham, three dancers dressed in brightly colored unitards engage in abstract configurations that have nothing to do with the music. And it is the bizarre and hilarious music that rules here, especially as played on kitchen utensils, paper bags, kazoos and other paraphernalia by the oh-so-avante-garde Lariska Dumbchenko (Raffaele Mora) and Yuri Smirnov (the versatile Carter).
Four legendary ballerinas are celebrated in "Le Grand Pas de Quatre," which the Trocks treat as a competition of fluttering eyelashes, logistical miscalculations and demented pratfalls. In their solos and ensemble duties, the dancers portraying Lucille Grahn, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito and Marie Taglioni showed keen command of romantic style even as they contributed addled gestures that suggested their need to see the nearest shrink.
One of the Trocks' most enduring pieces is "The Dying Swan," which was performed on this occasion by Katerina Bychkova (Joshua Grant) with a blend of Amazonian poise and goofball vulnerability. This swan has a big problem, aside from imminent demise: her tutu is molting with alarming speed. Bychkova managed to fend off feathery disaster until she slid (literally) to the ground and waved a fond farewell.
For sheer, fanciful pageantry, there was "Raymonda's Wedding," a divertissement based on choreography by Marius Petipa, which found the Trocks cavorting with vivacious splendor. Carter's impressive whiplash turns were but delectable morsels in this banquet of winsome and macho dance drollery.
RELATED COMPANY: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Sunday, January 30th, 2011 11:00 AM
Men en pointe delight audience at Ohio Theatre
A sold out, standing room only audience displayed abandoned delight, complete with "bravos" and much applause, at the Sat 1/29 performance of LES BALLETS TROCKADERO de MONTE CARLO, lovingly called The Trocks by their many admirers.
What was all the shouting about? On the surface, men were dancing in tutus, en pointe, many portraying roles such as the Swan in SWAN LAKE, traditionally reserved more › for women. Sound like a device to get people into the theatre? It is. But these are not guys who just spoof and do pratfalls. This is an international troupe of well-trained ballet dancers who have added to the usual male role in ballet of being partners who carry the females around, are given a few minutes of solo circle leaps and a few bravado movements. They are ballet dancers who have wonderful senses of comic timing and an ingenious choreographer. This is the company that the New York Times dance reviewer terms, "Partly Goofy, Part Glorious, All Man." I might add, "Totally audience pleasing."
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is an all-male ballet corps which parodies the conventions and clichés of romantic and classical ballet. It has been around since 1974 and has toured the world to great accolades.
The troupe, which last appeared in the area around fifteen years ago, opened their program with SWAN LAKE, ACT II, danced to the music of Tchaikovsky. This, their signature piece, tells the story of a beautiful princess, turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer, who is saved by the love of a prince. It's probably the world's best known ballet. But, if you haven't seen the Trocks' version, you haven't seen SWAN LAKE. Consisting of beautiful toe work, fine partnering, glorious costumes, a princess with facial stubble, pratfalls and comic interactions between the dancers, the audience transitioned between "bravos" and hysterics.
PATTERNS IN SPACE was a "post modern dance movement essay" in which three mismatched dancers tried their best to hold the audience's attention with creative movements, while competing for attention with two nerdy "musicians" who played the underscoring with paper bags, kazoos, bubble wrap, and pots and pans. It was Spike Jones meets classic dance, with Jones, in the form of "musicians" Lariska Dumbchenko and Yuri Smirnov winning. (All of the dancers have "Russian" as well as their traditional names. The Soviet designators are all plays on words, such as Legupski, Paranova, Thickenthighya, Enimenimynimova and Ida Nevasayneva.)
LE GRAND PAS DE QUATRE found four dancers in constant competition to upstage each other. Danced completely en pointe, the ability of dancers was only eclipsed by their ability to get outlandish attention.
A quick version of THE DYING SWAN, complete with a molting bird who kept losing its feathers while displaying the pangs of death, made the death more fun than tragic. Those who have seen the Academy Award nominated movie THE BLACK SWAN could only shake their heads and realize what a beautiful piece this could be when danced correctly. Beautiful, but not as much fun.
RAYMONDA'S WEDDING was a "traditionally confusing divertissement in two scenes," highlighted by a plot which "loses something in translation." Danced in classic ballet form, though the uneven story line "has baffled audiences since its premiere in 1898," it was visually attractive and, as most of the program, filled with wonderful laugh sequences. The "women" were all taller than their partners, causing visual illusions of tiny men lifting gigantic women. (Many of the "females" were well over 6 and a half feet tall in their pointe shoes.)
Capsule judgment: "This was the whole package," "What fun," "My goodness, they are really good dancers," and "I hope we don't have to wait another fifteen years to get them back!" These were comments made by the delighted dance concert-goers after the performance of LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO. I definitely agree!
RELATED COMPANY: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo